By Gary Robertson RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - Former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell took the witness stand in his own defense on Wednesday and denied giving any special treatment to the company at the heart of the bribery and corruption charges against him and his wife. McDonnell characterized his treatment of the company, Star Scientific Inc, and its CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. as "nothing at all special, other than what I was supposed to do.” McDonnell and his wife Maureen have been charged with 14 counts of bribery and fraud for allegedly accepting more than $165,000 in loans and gifts from Williams to promote the company’s signature product, Anatabloc. To prove its case against the McDonnells, the government must convince the jury that the couple – and specifically, the former governor – took “official acts” to help Williams and Star Scientific. Under questioning from lead defense attorney Henry Asbill, McDonnell said he never held a press conference for Williams, or visited his company or made an announcement in its behalf.
DENVER (AP) — Colorado will begin a new strategy for fighting wildfires in the coming weeks, deploying aircraft designed to pinpoint the location of blazes quicker after the first sighting of smoke with the aim of beginning suppression efforts faster.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, a possible Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential race, has entered a not guilty plea to two felony counts of abuse of power, according to a legal document posted on Wednesday by a newspaper. Perry also waived his right to an arraignment scheduled for Friday, according to the document, which was filed with the District Court of Travis County and signed by one member of Perry's legal team and was posted by the Houston Chronicle. Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in heavily Republican Texas, over his veto of funding for a state ethics watchdog that has investigated prominent Texas Republicans.
Officials say a police officer who was part of the effort to keep peace during protests in Ferguson has been suspended for pointing a semi-automatic assault rifle at demonstrators, then cursing and threatening to kill one of them.
Supreme Court stopped gay marriage in Virginia from going ahead on Wednesday, staying an appeals court ruling that had struck down a state ban. The court granted a stay application filed by opponents of gay marriage. The action was not a ruling on the merits of gay marriage, but means that a July 28 pro-gay marriage ruling by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will not be implemented while litigation continues.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Federal officials say the discovery of nine immigrants who were locked inside the cargo area of a rental truck at a Border Patrol checkpoint in southern Arizona highlights the dangers of human smuggling.
BEIRUT (AP) — The extremists of the Islamic State group have turned their social media into a theater of horror, broadcasting a stomach-turning stream of battles, bombings and beheadings to a global audience.
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A white police officer whose shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old ignited racial upheaval in a St. Louis suburb has been characterized as either an aggressor whose deadly gunfire constituted a daylight execution or a law enforcer wrongly maligned for just doing his job.
By Daniel Lovering BOSTON (Reuters) - A friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of removing evidence from Tsarnaev's dormitory room, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of obstructing the investigation into the blasts, his attorney said on Wednesday. Dias Kadyrbayev, a Kazakh national, is one of three college friends of Tsarnaev charged with hampering the probe into the blasts, which killed three people and injured more than 260 near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. His attorney, Robert Stahl, wrote in an email on Wednesday that Kadyrbayev "will plead tomorrow," but that the details had not yet been made public. He wrote that he will provide further details on Thursday, when a previously scheduled hearing will be held at federal court in Boston.